Last week, our TV columnist Spike expressed his disappointment that ‘American Horror Story’ had jumped on the zombie bandwagon. While I will agree that zombies have oversaturated the market over the past few years, I don’t have a problem with them on this show. After all, it’s more or less the mission statement of ‘American Horror Story’ to freely mix and match elements of every possible genre of horror storytelling. Zombies had to show up eventually, and after Wednesday’s episode, it looks like we’re done with them anyway.
Also, although they seem to be traditional lumbering zombies at first glance, the undead on this series have a voodoo slant that sets them apart from ‘The Walking Dead’ or the like. Unlike mindless brain-munchers, these are under the control of Marie Laveau, who can order them to do as she pleases. Rather than freshly killed, they’re also a century or more old and had to claw their way up from their graves. (This part does make me wonder how there’s any meat left on their bones, but I suppose we can just blame that on magic.)
Episode ‘Burn, Witch. Burn!’ opens with another flashback to Mme. LaLaurie’s reign of terror in the 1830s. Not only did she torture and murder her slaves, but after discovering that her three daughters conspired against her, she imprisoned and tortured them as well. As I’m sure has already been made perfectly clear, Mme. LaLaurie was not a nice person.
In the present day, the zombies have surrounded the academy. Dense neighbor boy Luke thinks they’re just kids in elaborate costumes and goes outside to shoo them away. This is a mistake. Upon Laveau’s command, they attack and injure Luke. Fortunately, Nan runs out to save him.
Zoe turns out to be the hero of the day when she fetches a chainsaw and goes all Ash Williams on the Deadites. (Actually, the outrageously cartoonish splatter gore here probably most closely resembles Peter Jackson’s ‘Dead Alive’.) Among the zombies are LaLaurie’s daughters, one of whom makes her way into the house. Queenie can barely keep it at bay with her “human voodoo doll” powers, until a tearful and contrite LaLaurie is forced to put her own daughter down.
When her chainsaw runs out of gas and a zombie lurches toward her, Zoe unleashes a power she didn’t know she had, which breaks Laveau’s spell and causes all the remaining zombies to fall to the ground, lifeless once again. This is clearly meant to suggest that Zoe is the next Supreme in waiting.
In the aftermath of this attack, the Council on Witchcraft returns to the academy the next day to hold Fiona accountable for bringing on the war with the voodoo clan. Myrtle also accuses her of murdering Madison (which we know is true). The Council demands that Fiona abdicate her leadership, until Fiona strikes back by revealing that Myrtle had been secretly stalking her, and was the hooded figure who tossed acid onto Cordelia’s face. (Later, we find out that Fiona used Queenie’s help to frame Myrtle for at least that part, but Myrtle never denies it.) Shocked that one of their own would attack another witch, the other two members of the Council sentence Myrtle to burn. A defiant Myrtle proclaims, “I go proudly to the flame.”
The episode takes on a weirdly goofy ’70s exploitation vibe as all the witches march Myrtle out to a remote spot and lash her to a stake. However, the scene culminates in a genuinely horrific climax as they light the bonfire and Myrtle dies in the blaze.
Odds and Ends
- Cordelia survived her acid attack, but her face is badly scarred and she’s left blind.
- Blitzed on booze and pills, a despondent Fiona trawls the halls of the creepy hospital. (Seriously, who would ever want treatment at this cesspool?) She comes across a young woman whose baby was stillborn. In a very uncomfortable scene, Fiona puts the dead baby in its mother’s arms and orders the woman to tell it that she loves her. Then she resurrects the child and leaves. Has Fiona always had the power of resurrection? Is that something that comes with being the Supreme?
- After watching Myrtle die, Queenie feels very guilty for her involvement in framing her. Fiona distracts Queenie by offering to mentor her, and suggests that Queenie could be the next Supreme.
- Once the other witches have left, Misty, who has some experience with dying in a fire, sneaks over to Myrtle’s remains and brings her corpse back to life. Does Misty just feel bad for another martyred witch, or does she have plans to usurp Fiona’s power?